Sunday, July 28, 2019

Elmira School, Elmira, Illinois

By Ruth A. Ringelstetter

The first time I stumbled on a picture of the Elmira School, I thought it was very cool and knew I had to mark it as a location for us to visit. I also worried that we wouldn’t make it there before it gave up the ghost to Midwest winters.


Finally, in 2015 when I was planning a photo trip that would take us through some very southern Iowa locations, and just the very northern section of Missouri, I managed to include it as one of our “on the way” locations. I remember sharing the picture with Joann when I first found the school, but I made it a point to not remind her before the trip so she could be surprised when we pulled up to it.


As we came down the highway, we could see the school sitting there looking forlorn. Joann quickly found a place to park, which was in the driveway of the town cemetery across the road. She got her equipment out of the car and headed across the highway.

From what I can tell, this two-room frame building with a brick foundation replaced an earlier building in 1902. In the beginning, some high school classes were offered, including the subjects of Algebra, English, Latin, Physical Geography, Civil Government, and Ancient History. High school classes were held until about 1915 when the school became only grades 1-8.


Two teachers were employed for the school until 1918 when classes were combined into one room, and one teacher taught all grades. Then, from 1928 until 1940, two teachers were employed again. In 1946, three surrounding school districts combined with Elmira to become the Elmira Community Consolidated Grade School, District 39.


In 1952, the Osceola school district petitioned to join the Elmira district. It was approved and a new school building was also approved to be built at another location. That consolidation and subsequent new school building marked the end of educational life for this building. One source says the school was used for community meetings for a while, but was completely abandoned by the early 1970’s.


As you can see in the photos, most of the boards are missing from the back of one end of the building. The bell is long gone from the bell tower and the vent of the stovepipe is lying on the roof. There are also holes in the roof, which is always the beginning of the end. Since our visit was in 2015, there’s no telling what the building looks like now, if it’s even still standing.


It will probably be years before we’re even near this location again, and I don’t know if we’ll even want to drive past since seeing no trace of a building we’ve enjoyed photographing always makes us sad.

Happy Shunpiking!
Ruth

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7 comments:

  1. Thanks for the interesting background on a landmark and an education style from the past. For having been abandoned so long ago, it appears to have been built very well. After all, it was for the benefit of the children that it was constructed, and they are always worth our best efforts and resources.

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    1. That's a great perspective, Jean...that the children are always worth our best efforts and resources. After all, they are our future!

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  2. Wow, what a beautiful building it must have been...much more elaborate than many of the small old school buildings we have seen and you have photographed. Thanks for the interesting story, Ruth and the wonderful photos of this building from years gone by, Joann. So sad that it was abandoned and left to decay.

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    1. Thanks, Phyllis. In 2011, we photographed a wonderful one-room school near Bettendorf, Iowa that was a gray clapboard building like this one, only smaller, of course. It was in pretty bad shape, with holes in the roof and foundation, and a sagging side. We thought that it might be too far gone to be saved, but a preservation group was formed and the school is now beautifully restored. I wish that could have happened with this one.

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  3. Yes, it sure is too bad that hasn't happened with this one. By now (four years since you photographed it), it is probably very likely too late.

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  4. Thank you for taking the time to record with picture and story of this Marvelous School. Too bad that it was not taken care of. :)

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    1. Thanks, Stephanie. Although this makes us very sad, we feel blessed that it remained standing long enough for us to get there to photograph it. They sure don't make them like they used to!

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